Friday, July 15, 2005

I Am An Unrepentant Dreamer

I look forward to reading columns by Morton Marcus. The man gets it. He was described recently as an "unrepentant dreamer". I am his kindred spirit. I long for a world of individual liberty and personal responsibility.

Read Mr. Marcus' latest column.
A Most Worthy Debate

The national Libertarian Party is right now engaged in a dialogue that should have been out in the open at least 10 years ago on the pages of the LP News, and in its conventions.

Purism and Pragmatism. Link to dialogue.

Thumbs way up, LP! This is the white elephant that's been avoided for too long. Here's my take on the discourse:

I think the thing to focus on here is the purpose of a political party, which is to get people elected to office and to move public policy in the party's direction.

Unfortunately, it has been my experience that this party has been effectively more of a philosophical debate society than a political party, and that the purists actually enjoy the fact that Michael Badnarik's highest percentage was 0.76%, in Indiana, because by gosh he was 100% platform.

We take a lot of scorn here in Indiana for being possibly the most pragmatic state affiliate of the bunch. We elect candidates in *partisan* elections, and have an effect on public policy- just like a political party should. We don't talk about Iraq if we are running for offices that have nothing to do with foreign policy, such as County Commissioner.

Notice that we do not compromise on our principles. We merely choose carefully which positions to enunciate, starting in the places where we believe we have agreement with the local electorate.

For example, in a Republican-dominated county, we often speak almost explusively on taxes and budegtary issues. There we can present ourselves as the true fiscal conservatives, showing how Republicans are tax-and-spend.

In Democrat-dominated counties, we often speak almost exclusively about areas of personal life. There we present ourselves as the true defenders of individual liberties, showing how Democrats are as interested in curtailing liberties as the Republicans.

This is called strategy.

I have seen far too many Libertarian candidates, all full of themselves and drunk on the platform, rush into debates or other public discourse leading on an issue precisely where we have known disagreement with the electorate.

You can be the professional iconoclast if you want to, but you should ask yourself if taking that tack is in the best interest of advancing the philosophy you say you cherish so deeply.
Purism and Pragmatism must co-exist, with the principles underlying the action.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Another Day, Another GOP Tax

This evening the Westfield Town Council finally got to hear the voice of the people, and it was overwhelmingly against the 1% food & beverage tax.

So, naturally, the Town Council passed the tax.

Conceded, it was by a narrow 3-2 margin, which was the closest yet in Hamilton County. But it did pass, and add to the burden of restaurant owner, employees, and patrons. Westfield joins Carmel, Noblesville, and the County itself in levying taxes on all manner of prepared foods.

This sums up the Republican Party: Tax & Spend, and disinterested in the will of the people.

The Libertarian Party was again the only voice of opposition to this tax, speaking on record at the meeting, but more importantly, in contacting the restaurant owners and managers to get their opinion. The wide consensus among these business people is that they were not consulted by their Republican officials, and if they had been consulted, they would have been glad to offer their opposition.

But the will of the people isn't what interests Republican official holders. The only thing that matters is more and more money coming in. If you want a change, you have to start voting Libertarian.
A Mayor Who Gets It

Kudos to Mayor John Zumer of Crwafordsville, who bucked the trend toward the Nanny State here in Indiana by issuing his veto to a smoking ban recently passed by the City Council there. Indy Star story.

He vetoed the ordinance for the right reasons.
The council last year imposed a smoking ban in all city-owned property and considered the ban for all places of employment throughout the city after a campaign by a local anti-smoking group.

Zumer, however, said he was against such government regulation on legal products and that people were not forced to work at or visit places that allowed smoking.

“Adults naturally concerned about their health and the health of minors entrusted to them are not required to patronize establishments that allow cigarette usage,” Zumer said.

The Chamber of Commerce doesn't get it- in a huge way.
The Chamber of Commerce in the city about 40 miles northwest of Indianapolis had backed the tighter restrictions, saying health concerns outweighed arguments for personal and business owners rights.

Good grief, but the Chamber of Commerce is supposed to be the advocate of local business, and here they are advocating interference in local business owners setting their own policies. If I were a restauranteur in Crawfordsville, I'd withdraw from the Chamber immediately.

Way to go, Mr. Mayor!
Finally, a Hockey Season!

At long last, it appears that the NHL is on the verge of a return to play on the ice. Before this happy moment could come, hockey fans have had to endure more than 300 days of sheer stupidity. From ESPN:
This lockout was worse than any in sports, dwarfing the one that cut the 1994-95 hockey season nearly in half and resulted in the agreement that expired last September.

In February, commissioner Gary Bettman canceled the season, making the NHL the first North American sports league to lose a year because of a labor dispute.

Stupid, pointless greed. Idiotic lowlights:
  • Players who complained the NHL deal was unfair left their million dollar contracts to play for one-tenth the amount in the minor leagues or in Europe. If it was okay to play there for less, why not in the NHL?
  • Owners complained about the spiraling salary costs. Well, who offers thos contracts to the players? The Tooth Fairy?
What's really stupid about all this is that hockey has traditionally been a distant fourth in the minds of sports fans, way behind baseball, football, and basketball. To make a whole season disappear was to make the game invisible when it was already the least visible, except that it was most visible only in the worst way- when either side was crying like the spoiled brats they are. As ever, Wayne Gretzky got it right in his comments:
"At the end of the day everybody lost," said Wayne Gretzky, the NHL's career scoring leader and the managing partner of the Phoenix Coyotes. "We almost crippled our industry. It was very disappointing what happened."

Time to close up the deal. Put this ugly chapter in the past and get on the ice.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Courage That Gets Applause

Sometimes, you just have to dig in and refuse to obey. Hats off to Charlie's Drive-In Restaurant in Martinsville, where the owners are refusing to abide by a smoking ban ordinance. From RTV-6:
Bob Williams and Linda Dunigan, owners of Charlie's Drive-In Restaurant, have been fined $200 for refusing to comply with the ordinance. A note posted on the restaurant's door spells out their position.

"This restaurant allows smoking. If this offends you, please feel free to visit one of our competitors," the sign reads. "If you choose to come in, then you enter at your own risk. Thank You."

Really, their position is, "We own this place. We reserve the right to set our policies in our place". Americans used to better understand that the home was the castle, and that one's business was merely an extention of the castle. Alas.

I hate cigarette smoke, but next time I'm near Martinsville, I'll go out of my way to eat at Charlie's.

Thanks to Kevin Fleming for the heads-up on the story.
Another Look At Kelo V. New London, the Constitution, and the Supreme Court

Rex Bell is the Chair of the Libertarian Party of Wayne County, and penned an excellent look at the Supreme Court's recent offensive ruling on eminent domain, and the nature of an 'evolving' Constitution. The column was run in the Muncie Star Press, and other papers. From the column:
The "living document" interpretation by all three branches of government has given us the free speech censorship of the McCain-Feingold Act, over 22,000 gun control laws across the nation, and the near nullification of the entire Bill of Rights by the Patriot Act. It has also allowed Congress to abdicate its responsibility for declaring war, and has allowed the federal government to play doctor in another recent Supreme Court snafu.
Check it out. Rex's thoughts are well-reasoned in explaining important distinctions that seem like semantics to far too many.
Westfield Update

The front-page article on today's Noblesville Daily Times was at once frustrating and illustrating.

It was frustrating in that it turned out that I couldn't attend Westfield's Town Council meeting, as Isabel got cranky right as I was about to go to the meeting. Worse, nobody else attended. I could have had the stage to myself.

It was illustrating in that the charge I made was that the Town was rushing the whole process, going from announcement to vote in under seven days. Nobody else showed up thanks to the short notice.

My letter in the same issue of the Daily Times, with my charges is essentially the same as the one in the Ledger, and the blog entry below.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Taking Action in Westfield

In trading emails with Town Council members, I have found that at least one intends to vote against the proposed food & beverage tax. If we can sway two more, we'll beat this thing in Westfield!

Check here for info on the pub crawl. In the meantime, write your letters or call your Councilor. Here's my letter, in Tuesday's Ledger:
The onward march of arrogant, elitist local Republican officials continues to plow over Hamilton County like a steamroller.

Despite significant popular opposition to any new taxes, the all-Republican councils for Hamilton County, Noblesville and Carmel have voted to enact individual 1 percent food and beverage taxes. ("Some have trouble digesting food, beverage tax" Page A16 July 1 Noblesville Ledger.)

Now it's Westfield's turn.

Westfield's council members have clearly attended the same GOP school of governance as Noblesville's and Carmel's councils. These cities are cramming
ordinances through the entire process, from announcement to vote, within a mere
seven days. This time frame makes it obvious that their intention is to minimize
organized opposition and public input.

Republicans have argued that the tax is really very small, and doesn't hurt terribly much, which makes it rather like getting hit on the head lightly with a ball peen hammer, then. You can take a few hits, but why on earth would you want to?

And there's the arrogance. Our councilors didn't bother to ask restaurant owners, workers or patrons whether or not these were hits we would like to take. They just feel that they know best, and that your job is to shut up and take it.

Join in showing support for the restaurants and taverns in Westfield by attending the public meetings, contacting the council members and by participating in the Libertarian Party's pub crawl Wednesday evening. It's time to stop this ravenous Republican tax machine in its tracks.

Mike Kole
NPR as an American Pravda?

I actually hadn't thought of NPR or PBS so clearly before, as a parallel to the old Soviet nationalized newspaper Pravda, but that is exactly what NPR (especially) is.

Today, David Boaz of the Cato Institute made the sort of arguments that I never quite so clearly enunciated myself. From Boaz's statement, as found on the Cato website:
We wouldn't want the federal government to publish a national newspaper. Neither should we have a government television network and a government radio network. If anything should be kept separate from government and politics, it's the news and public affairs programming that informs Americans about government and its policies. When government brings us the news -- with all the inevitable bias and spin -- the government is putting its thumb on the scales of democracy. Journalists should not work for the government. Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize news and public-affairs programming.

I had always marveled at the left's embrace of NPR. Sure, NPR espouses their viewpoint, but apart from content, it really is the most repugnant sort of news source, the sort that the left should stand against- in opposition to the Official Truth, and in favor of genuine, independent journalism.

What is also fascinating is his report on the demographics NPR and PBS reach out to: wealthy, white, and suburban.
One dirty little secret that NPR and PBS don't like to acknowledge in public debate is the wealth of their listeners and viewers. But they're happy to tell their advertisers about the affluent audience they're reaching. In 1999 NPR commissioned Mediamark Research to study its listeners. NPR then enthusiastically told advertisers that its listeners are 66 percent wealthier than the average American, three times as likely to be college graduates, and 150 percent more likely to be professionals or managers.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Now It's Westfield

The onward march of liberal, tax-and-spend Republicans continues to plow over Hamilton County like a steamroller.

First, the all-Republican Hamilton County Council voted to enact a 1% food & beverage tax. The next day, the all-Republican Noblesville Common Council voted to enact a 1% food & beverage tax of its own. Three days later, the all-Republican Carmel City Council voted to enact its own 1% food & beverage tax.

See a pattern here? Republicans are enacting taxes. The hospitality industry is the whipping boy.

On Monday, the Westfield Town Council will introduce an ordinance for -you guessed it- its own 1% food & beverage tax. Then on Thursday, July 14, Westfield will vote on the new tax.

Westfield's Council members must have gone to the same school of governance as Noblesville's and Carmel's. Both of those cities introduced and voted on their ordinances with lightning speed, so as to minimize organized opposition and public input. Westfield posted the item to their website late Friday afternoon. Thanks for the lead time, and your deep interest in the public viewpoint!

The Libertarian Party will again mount the only organized opposition. Please attend these meetings, especially if you are an owner of an establishment that serves food and beverages, or if you are a Westfield resident, or someone who frequents Westfield restaurants & taverns.

Meeting info:

Monday, July 11, 2005 at 7:00pm
Town Council Meeting
Town Hall - Assembly Room
130 Penn Street

Thursday, July 14, 2005 at 7:00pm
Town Council Meeting
Oak Trace Elementary School
16504 Oak Ridge Road

If attending, be early! These items can blow by in a matter of seconds. If you are late, you lose your opportunity for public comment. The meeting on Thursday features the food & beverage tax as the first of only two items on the agenda, so it could be over in as little as 5 minutes.

Call or write the Council members immediately. Be polite and friendly, but firm in your opposition.

Jack Hart / 317-896-5707 /
David Mikesell / 317-896-5147 /
Teresa Otis Skelton / 317-896-2636 /
Bob Smith / 317-896-3728 /
Ron Thomas / 317-867-5318 /

If they don't hear the voice of opposition, they assume that there isn't any, and they will proceed with this tax. Be heard!